Brine it, baste it, behold it: My Favorite Turkey-Part 1

Behold it!

This my favorite roast Turkey recipe. It has its roots in Martha Stewart (who I think should adopt me) and in my own brand of cooking alchemy.  This year will be my sixth year roasting this juicy, golden yummy piece of Thanksgiving heaven.

The brine has simple ingredients. The turkey is basted in butter and wine as it roasts–it is picture perfect and tastes beautifully as well.

Plan on ordering a fresh turkey from a local farm in early November. Or picking up your frozen turkey from the grocery store a few weeks before Thanksgiving. Pickings can be slim in the days right before the big day. A good rule of thumb is to provide 1 1/2 -2 pounds of turkey per person. If your turkey is frozen, start defrosting it early and allow 24 hours for every 5 pounds of turkey.

Some things you need before you dive in–a brining bag or a super large stock pot that your turkey plus brine can fit in; space in your fridge for stock pot; cheese cloth; a roasting pan with a raised rack;  a silicon oven safe brush and a meat thermometer.

Brine it

Brine it!

Brining results in moist, flavorful meat. It works, apparently, through reverse osmosis and diffusion. I could pretend to fully understand this (this is why Nana needed Granddad and my Uncle Allan–for these techie issues), but I just know it works and the meat is tender, juicy and yummy. Cooks Illustrated has a fabulous explanation; just don’t get caught up in the fears of non-crispy skin–we will get to that later.

You will make the brine on Wednesday morning, let it cool, and then put the turkey in the brine and refrigerate until Thanksgiving morning.

Here’s what you need:

  • Your turkey–I usually get a 15-18 pounder. This recipe will work for more or less weight.; remove the giblets, save if you are into that and keep the tag from the turkey that lists the weight
  • 3 cups coarse salt
  • 5 cups sugar
  • 2 medium onions, skins on, washed and coarsely chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, leaves on, coarsely chopped
  • 3 bay leaves
  • Couple sprigs fresh thyme
  • Handful of fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
Grab your enormous stock pot and put all ingredients (EXCEPT FOR THE TURKEY) in with 10 cups of water. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly until the salt and sugar have dissolved. Remove from heat, let the brine cool completely. 
Grab your bird and place the turkey breast first into the stock pot (or toss the whole caboodle in a brining bag) with the brine and cover (use the lid or plastic wrap). Place everything in the fridge for up to 24 hours. 

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